This is not your usual chicken salad. It’s almost like a shredded slaw, but with amazingly tasty dressing and the goodness of chicken. Look at the colors and textures and you will guess all the jam packed flavors in this heaping mound of salad called Gỏi gà bắp cải, or just Gỏi gà.
This Vietnamese Chicken Salad is your bowl of vibrant freshness from crunchy veggies and loads of herbs. In every bite there is a perfect combination of sweet, savory and tangy with the slightest hint of spice, thanks to their beloved Nuoc Cham dressing.
And the star here, my friends, is a simple humble toasty generous amount of peanuts and fresh herbs. Never, ever skimp on that…
Who doesn’t love a complete meal without even starting the stove? Albeit, there is plenty of chopping, but nothing you can’t handle in anticipation of one great healthy, light and super tasty meal.
Yes, salads can be a complete meal if they’re hearty with some kind of protein mixed in. This Vietnamese cold chicken salad is just such a thing. Chop some veggies and fresh herbs, throw in some pre-cooked chicken (rotisserie is best here), drizzle some dressing and you are ready to heap up a giant mound on your plate.
Vietnamese Chicken Salad
There are many oriental salads out there, but once you make this Vietnamese salad, you will get hooked on to those beautiful sweet and umami flavors in no time. What makes this salad a little unique is an abundance of fresh herbs like mint and cilantro.
One very unique thing about Vietnamese cuisine is the use of plenty of fresh herbs, almost like vegetables. You can see this in their Pho and noodle bowls like our Bun Cha. The very subtle flavors of the main dish really get heightened with the freshness of peppery herbs.
Using Vietnamese cilantro, which is more fragrant and potent than regular cilantro, is common in very reginal local food. Lots of basil, mint and other green leafy herbs always garnish their delicacies. This chicken salad is no exception. Plus, it has their popular Nuoc Cham dressing.
What is Nuoc Cham?
Nuoc Cham is a real star in Vietnamese cuisine. They serve it with everything and anything. It acts as their dipping sauce, salad dressing, or sauce to drizzle over meat. They love their Nuoc Cham. Everyone has their own recipe or variation, but it’s basically sweet and salty, umami with a touch of spice.
Fish sauce is very commonly used in Vietnamese food, and it’s kind of an essential ingredient to create the authentic oriental flavors. This is a fish sauce based lime dressing with hints of chili and sometimes some garlic with a dash of sugar. End result: it gives that perfect umami, sweet and sour taste in every single bite… The essence of most of Vietnamese food.
Ingredients for Vietnamese Chicken Salad
- Chicken – We used rotisserie chicken, making this dish perfect to use your leftover rotisserie chicken already there in your refrigerator. Any kind of cooked chicken can go in this salad. If you are starting from raw chicken, poach it before adding it to the salad. Sliced it into baton like shredded slices.
- Veggies – The most common veggies that go in this salad bowl are some kind of Chinese cabbage or Napa cabbage, bell peppers (we used red bell peppers),red onion, cucumber and carrots. Napa cabbage or Chinese cabbage is softer and more delicate than regular cabbage, giving it an ideal texture for this salad. You can use regular cabbage in its absence, just shred it very finely. You can also use red cabbage to add more color.
- Fresh herbs – Plenty of fresh mint, cilantro and scallions (only the green part).
- Nuoc Cham dressing – Fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, white sugar, red chilis and vegetable oil.
- Flavor enhancers – PLENTY of roasted peanuts and some more red chilis (you can use Thai birds eye chili for heat, or use any mild red chilis like Fresno chilis).
How to make Vietnamese Chicken Salad
1. Start by adding all the dressing ingredients in a bowl or mason jar. Whisk or shake it well.
2. Cut napa cabbage into fine shreds. Cut red onion into bell peppers into thin batons. Cut the carrots into julienne strips or thin matchsticks.
3. In a big salad bowl, combine all the veggies along with shredded chicken.
4. Add in hand torn mint leaves along with chopped cilantro.
5. When ready to serve, drizzle on Nuoc Cham and toss the salad well. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
6. Serve it with slightly pounded roasted peanuts, along with some fresh lime or some more herby companions.
This is how to poach chicken if you don’t have rotisserie chicken
It’s important to have tender and moist chicken for this salad. If you boil the chicken, sometimes it gets dried out and rubbery. The poaching method works best to get that perfect, moist chicken, even if you are using chicken breast.
To poach chicken breast, bring water to boil. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and leave chicken breast to poach, with the lid on, for 20 minutes or longer. Shred the chicken breast. Done…
How long to store Vietnamese Chicken Salad
This salad is a great meal prep option, as it will last great for 4-5 days in an airtight container in your refrigerator. If you are saving it for meal prep, do not add the dressing. Drizzle it fresh every time you want to eat this salad. Nouc cham can be saved in an air tight mason jar for a week in your refrigerator.
- Try adding other protein like turkey or cooked pork.
- Though not traditional, I can see other veggies and fruits going great in here. Think edamame, red cabbage or chopped mango.
- Use roasted cashews instead on peanuts for a little different flavor profile.
So there you go, chicken salad that’s not loaded with mayo and cheeses, but has amazingly great flavors and textures. In all this, it magically, effortlessly becomes so, so healthy and light.
Try this great oriental salad tonight and see how you get amazed at the fresh flavors. This is something you make a huge batch of and munch it any time through out the day. Let’s see is you can resist it, even at breakfast time… it’s that addictive!
Vietnamese Chicken Salad, in our Gypsy Bowl… enjoy!
- 3-4 cups rotisserie chicken, thinly sliced or shredded
- 4 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into batons
- 1 English cucumber, removed seeds and cut into thin rounds
- 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
- 2-3 scallions, only green part, sliced
- 1 cup fresh mint, torn into pieces
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 Fresno red chili, sliced
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
Nuoc Cham dressing
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 Tbsp rice or regular vinegar
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp white sugar
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp red fresno chili, chopped
- Start by mixing all the dressing ingredients in a bowl or mason jar. Whisk or shake it well.
- Cut napa cabbage into fine shreds. Cut red onion into bell peppers into thin batons. Cut the carrots into julienne strips or thin matchsticks.
- In a big salad bowl, combine all the veggies along with shredded chicken.
- Add in hand torn mint leaves along with chopped cilantro.
- When ready to serve, drizzle Nuoc Cham and toss the salad well. Let it rest for 5 minutes
- Serve it with slightly pounded roasted peanuts along with some fresh lime or some more herbs.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 469Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 76mgSodium 1350mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 4gSugar 12gProtein 35g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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